Reading Of The Will

Not only do the days seem to be flying by at breakneck speeds, but now the years, too?

Year tu Brute?

If all goes according to plan, I hope to have 52 posts here at Grey Barn Stories, aka, Julee's Journey, Jambalaya, That's What I Thought,  Storylines, The Novel, Storyboard, Notes From The Porch, Turning The Page, Dear Max & Lilly,  and Grey Barn Stories.

Seriously, Juls, that many titles?
One of my favorite New Years post was titled "11:59, 12-31-07" and even though I'm not quite  ready to turn '14's doorknob, here's the first in my Sunday posts of the new year. Working title: "Here's The Plan"

On this last Saturday evening of '13, I find myself back in Genesis trying to get a jump start on reading through the Bible in a year. I downloaded this to help me and am committed to post on Sunday's what I gleaned, how I saw God's heart, and a verse or two to hopefully memorize, at the least, remember.

* * * *
If my grandma had handed me her memoir, would I have shoved it on a shelf or tossed it in a storage tub? Good grief, no! I would read, reread, and read between the lines. My inheritance is in Christ and it's time to find out more about my bloodline. 

The first 2 chapters in Genesis speak over and over again to me that my Dad was one creative guy.  Lights, signs, seasons, days, years, fish, birds, wild animals, tame ones, too, fruits, vegetables, seeds, rivers, gardens, wind, stars, spirits, angels, mornings and cool of the day! Not to mention, us!

Sometimes I have a hard time believing all of this, light brought forth from the dark, spirits hovering, and  humans created out of clay?  But the heart of God speaks to me, these last few days of 2013, from Genesis and reminds me of His awesomeness in the rising of the sun and in it's setting. 

The verse(s) that jumped off the page was Genesis 3:14.  Right after God found Adam and Eve hiding because of their disobedience, He cursed the snake ... "The Lord God said to the snake, Because you did this, a curse will be put on you.  You will be cursed as no other animal, tame or wild, will ever be. You will crawl on your stomach, and will eat dust all the days of your life."

God cursed the snake, not us!  Oh yes, we'll have a couple problems with children, hard work, moving out of the garden, and an earthly death, but we are not cursed. We are created in His image and He breathed life into our spirits!  

He made the way. The plan is in motion. I will live according to the plan. It's doable. 

Not broken, forgiven.
Not wounded, healed.
Not sad, joyful.
Not dark, light.
Not fear, faith.

I see hope in a new day, a new year. When my faith wains or waivers, I will remember the blueprints from Genesis. There is a great design, it makes total sense there was and is a master designer.
And I'm in His will.

Linking today with:


Oh Holy Light

Silent night.


Having had the family here for the week-end before, we're rattling around in this big old farmhouse while echoes and memories bounce like pinballs off the walls and our hearts.

Christmas morning has it's very own aura. I envision shopper less stores and city sidewalks still dressed in holiday style, but not quite as bustly. I'm sure there is a Disney parade at some point today, but they're passing the September taped announcers off as if it's live.

The world pauses. The breath of heaven causes stirring in our hearts. People question if it all could be true and the movies and songs make us want to believe.

As I reminisce about another year gone by (today I will start the YIR video) warmed by the fireplace and space heater, my mind's eye recalls; outdoor decorations that dotted the landscape on the way to Illinois ~ Christmas prayers prayed by Grandpa Bauer in fast motion ~ bringing home a real tree from the lit lot, bubble lights, tinsel slung, a star on the grain bin leg (same star pictured), my first bible, ice skates, a remote control race car track, madame alexander dolls, the whole family in Marshall Fields toy department, snowmobiling, family and food everywhere, "Christmas Story" marathons, and memorized renditions of "Twas The Night Before Christmas" and Luke 2.

The meaningful lights linger. One more day.  I took most of these pictures last night, because we all know Christmas Eve is much more magical than Christmas night. But after conjuring up my Christmas past, and quietly bemoaning how I'll feel about the decorations tomorrow morning, I wondered how the world felt the morning after the manger.

Some, surely continued on without a hint of what the first Christmas could possibly hold. And yet there were those who believed; a handful of shepherds and wisemen. Mary and Joseph. Maybe the innkeeper. Those who could not ignore that bright star in the east and then the heavenly hosts in the skies over Bethlehem.  I wonder if the news travelled via the front desk of the inn? Or what the reaction was on streets the next morning?

What do you think about this greatest story ever told? Do you truly understand the implications of the  miracle of Christmas?  Why has this event in history, a story which happened thousands of years ago, remained to this day in 2013?

Today the light shines on the Christmas story. A candle next to the manger scene. Miles and miles of light strands decorate our yards and homes. The light always dispels the darkness. The street lights will come on again this evening. I'll keep the star lit.  The candles will turn on at dusk, but shine their brightest in the dark of night. When the light comes in the dark must flee. In the room, on the street, and in our hearts.

 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of the darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  2 Corinthians 4:6


Merry Christmas

I almost titled this post, Merry Cancer!

Because as hideous as cancer is, the year I get it, turns out to be the best year of my life.

I can't claim to have kept my eyes on Jesus, everyday of 2013, but I passed most of the laid up days with prayers, listening to worship songs, reading my bible and these books*

I had some dark times. I was scared. Waking up in the night to reality kicking you in the gut is not a picnic, but the verses came to me like old friends whispering their encouragement, their promise, and their truth! (Along with old friends texting, calling, sending cards, sitting with Mark during surgery, and friends I don't even know covering me in prayer and sending a homemade afghan to prove it)

But, joy comes in the morning(s).

At times, day and night, I actually felt the presence of God wash over me, like the warm blanket they give you after surgery.


Wake-up call.

Turning Point.

Change direction.

But one can't stay on the couch recuperating forever and as meaningful as my sick time was, I got better.

And yes, you guessed it, pretty soon, I'm back reading Facebook first thing in the morning instead of scripture.

Oh wretched soul that I am.

This Christmas letter is somewhat of a dichotomy.  I (we) did have an awesome year and we had an extremely tough year.

Highlights included the beginning and ending of a farm venue business. Working our tails off, but in the end patting ourselves on the back, thankful for a new family on our Christmas card list. And always the work of property managers and keeping the STORIES Photography fires burning.

A 36th anniversary and bucket list train trip vacation to Washington DC and New York City and my first trip to Broadway.

Picking up a vintage camper, which will most likely eat up all the hobby hours, next year.

A handful of family week-ends, including March Laughfest and the grand children's 2nd birthdays.

A wonderful 4-day retreat at the farm breaking bread together a giant slip and slide, and ongoing stories of our connection with Africa.

A whole month in Michigan welcoming baby Calvin and celebrating Thanksgiving around the Muskegon table. Links to follow.

Tons of time with extended family and a few times with old friends.

I will always be grateful for this year in my life. A marker for sure. "Blessings And Blues" would maybe have been a more appropriate title but, this is my 2013 story, and I'm sticking to it.

I'm moving forward. Even though I've been healed, I'll keep my six-month check-up on Friday, and I'm ok with the results.

It's called life, folks and we only have one to live.

Ups and downs.

Good news and bad news.

Live like I'm dying and like I'm gonna live forever.

I vow to do both next year!

Merry Christmas and may God bless you in 2014.

Mark and Julee

Ken Gire ~ Seeing What Is Sacred
Ann Voscamp ~ 1000 Gifts
Sarah Young ~ Jesus Calling
Danny Silk ~ Keep Your Love On
Retro Christmas Card Photo Credit


Sometimes I question your faith.

I've discovered a few blog links which have helped me write more. One is Jeff Goins' class on finding your voice... the assignment is to write about what makes you mad ... hence this post.

Another site is called 5-minute Friday ...
Thursday night at midnight, the link provides the "Word" of the Friday, and we are to write about that word for 5 minutes. No editing, no research, just a shitty first draft on said word.  The only other rule to 5-minute Friday is to read the link before or after yours and encourage them with a comment.

The link before yours. The link after yours.

The generation before yours. The generation after yours.

Sometimes the link gets broken.

If you need encouragement, this is probably not the blog to be reading.

I blame Christians.

Try hash tagging abortion, gay marriage, tea party, I heart George Zimmerman, I hate Obama or Public School System will ruin your child, you will find a slew of so-called Christians ranting, raving, and waving their  "America is going to hell in a hand basket placards". Most of the ranters are moms and dads... parents to the next generation.

Well here's MY rant.

I blame Christians.

I blame Christians for jumping on the evils of abortion and neglecting to befriend the scared and confused pregnant girl.
I blame Christians for saying they hate the sin, but love the sinner. No you don't. How many gay friends do you love? How many gays read your judgmental blogs?
I blame Christians for not putting their arm around the Trayvon Martins of the world and showing them the love of Jesus.
I blame Christians for not teaching their children how to listen, give, be thankful, and think more highly of others than they do themselves.
I blame Christians for telling their daughters to save themselves for marriage and dressing provocatively constantly.
I blame Christians for spewing hateful rhetoric when someone is not "like"them and living in their secret sin worlds.
I blame Christians for campaigning against gay marriage and yet sitting in their loveless marriages.
I blame Christians for preaching "God Looks On The Heart" and posting fat people from Walmart on their status updates.
I blame  Christians for no one befriending radical terrorists attending flight school in their town for over a year.
I blame Christians for hardly being able to carry on a conversation that is not about themselves or their opinions.
I blame Christians for talking incessantly about their exercise regimes, and yet letting the seeds of bitterness and anger grow like cancer in their inner man.
I blame Christians (not for pulling their kids from the public school system) but for the constant negative  attitude and, holier-than-thou internet club
I blame Christians for blaming the ills of the world on a political party and never taking responsibility for their own mistakes or miserable life
I blame Christians for wanting so badly to be right they will forfeit even family relationships
I blame Christians for coveting what is on the other side of the fence and ignoring the fields which are white unto harvest.
I blame Christians for clinging to their guns and religion instead of kicking their fears to the curb.
I blame Christians for their endless idle chatter about everything under the sun, except loving their Father with all their hearts, loving their neighbor as themselves, going into all the world to preach the gospel, and taking care of the less fortunate.

Sometimes I question my faith.